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Hi, all. I was out sailing a couple of days ago and I came across 6 or 8 sailboats that were heading out towards the islands as I was heading back in toward the marina. Two of these boats were sailing under full headsail and very little mainsail, almost a stormsail set up. In one case, I thought that maybe the boat was trying to slow its speed so that the three other smaller boats accompanying it could keep up. Then I saw the other one with its sails set the same way.

Is this a common way to sail? Winds were maybe 10-13+ knots. Do any of you sail with your sails rigged this way? I am intrigued enough that I will give it a try next time out. Any information about this set up will be appreciated.

Thanks, Bill
 

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a couple of ?'s

first which way was the wind to them, if they where going down wind it makes some sense.

also a lot of boats get more power out of the headsail, so maybe they did not as much heel, maybe lunch time, maybe wife did not like heel.

could be lots of things
 

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It is much easier to control the boat downwind with a genova only and the main does not blanket the genova when reefed.

Upwind the genovai creates the main driving force. The direction of the wind is changed by the genova and the main cannot create too much forward drive but causes heeling.
 

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I've never seen anyone sail either upwind or down, reefed in 13 knots of wind. Many production boats, mine included need a reef at around 18 knots or so sustained when going upwind, and I did exactly that for several hours this weekend. However, since you were going out, and they were coming in, it could be that they had been seeing higher winds earlier and just hadn't bothered to shake out the reef they put in when it was warranted.

That said, the arguments given for reefing the main going downwind in ligher air are intriguing and I'd like to hear more pro and con.
 

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Lazy--or shorthanded--sailors.
Easier to roller-furl headsail than to reef the main.
Forecast is for stronger winds, so it's prudent hoist main with single reef.
Winds don't get up to forecast strength, so unroll genoa to get most canvas out, without touching main halyard.

My 2 cents.
 

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SailGunner
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I will reef the main first, maybe a double before I bring in any headsail. I have a fractional rig so reefing the main is essentiial around 15 knots but since the headsail is small in comparison, I can leave it full until the winds get to 20+ knots.
 

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Our boat has a very high aspect main which, sailing off the wind in light airs, isn't very useful compared with the drive we get out of the headsail. On more than one occassion we have hard-sheeted the main to provide stability and keep it from fouling the air to the headsail which provides the drive. In relatively larger seas, with the yacht's heading varying with the roll of the sea, this approach can be problemsome as, as the wind's angle on the main come more ahead, the sail begins to force the boat to head up. At this point, we lower the sail to the first or second reef-point as, hard sheeted it still provides some stability but is not large enough to make the boat want to round up as she passes over a swell.
 

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Downwind, if it is that light, one is better off wing on wing, or going to 150 or so, then you can use a full main and genoa and get max speed. Upwind, double reefs and a full genoa does not make sense, even in 10-15 knots!

It could be they were just going for cruise mode, got turned on there ears once with a gust, someone got scare. Or just wanted to go at a slow leasurly pace. Maybe a group practicing and playing with different sail options on light day to they would know what to do in heavy wind conditions............ many many reasons for the funkiness of the setups.

Marty
 

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As was said lots of possible reasons. Another is that going up wind the main helps balance the rig by adding force aft of the center of effort to the overall vector of forces. Could be they we trying to eliminate excessive lee helm but it depends on the boat. After all if they were right on the wind and making five kts in a 13 kt wind they'd have an apparent wind of around 18 kts which might be where they want to reef . Just a thought
 

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I reef at >15 if we're out sailing hard. Too much weather helm -> rudder-braking -> loss of speed -> stress on steering if I don't...

But when I'm out w/ the fam (7 month old daughter), I'll tie a reef in before I head out in anything but light wind conditions. I'd rather make 5.5 knts at 13 degrees than 5.7 knts at 30 degrees when she's aboard.

Like what's been mentioned. Many reasons for tying in reefs, but machismo is never one of them. :D
 

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I do this on my tanzer 22 when racing in moderate to heavy wind (say 15-20 kts) .. Run full Genny and a reefed down main.. keeps the speed up but the heeling down going upwind ... I have the scimitar 'short rudder' on my T22, so if i leave the main up the heel pops it out and she rounds up.... But if I drop to a smaller headsail then I am left in the dust by the rest of the pack...

It's a pretty common tactic on the T22, and I'd imagine other small bermuda sloops..
 
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